The Giants announced that they have signed right-hander Joe Ross to a minor league deal, with Maria I. Guardado of MLB.com among those who relayed the news on Twitter. Ross has received an invitation to major league Spring Training, though he underwent a second career Tommy John surgery in June of last year and isn’t likely to be ready until midseason at the earliest.
Ross, 30 in May, was a first round draft pick of the Padres in 2011 and once considered one of the top pitching prospects in the league. He was traded to the Nationals alongside Trea Turner in the three-team, 11-player deal that also sent Wil Myers to the Padres and Steven Souza Jr. to the Rays. Over 2015 and 2016, he made 32 starts and three relief appearances, posting a 3.52 ERA over 181 2/3 innings. He made another 13 starts in 2017 before he required Tommy John for the first time, wiping out the remainder of that season and most of 2018 as well.
He stayed healthy in 2019 but didn’t quite get his results all the way back. He had a 5.48 ERA that year, splitting his time between the rotation, the bullpen and making eight starts in Triple-A. He sat out the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns but returned in 2021. He was quite solid that year, tossing 108 innings with a 4.17 ERA, 23.7% strikeout rate, 7.4% walk rate and 43.2% ground ball rate. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow in August. He tried to rehabilitate the injury via non-surgical means but ultimately had to go under the knife again last summer.
For the Giants, they’re taking a no-risk flier on Ross, hoping that he can perhaps get back into game shape by the later stages of the season. They have six solid rotation options right now, with Logan Webb, Sean Manaea, Alex Cobb, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani all in place, as well as long reliever Jakob Junis and depth options such as Tristan Beck, Thomas Szapucki and Sean Hjelle. That’s a fairly crowded mix right now but injuries will inevitably pop up as the season progresses.
For Ross, he’ll get to make use of the club’s facilities and could wind up pitching near his old stomping grounds, as he was born in Berkeley and went to high school in Oakland. The Giants play in San Francisco, of course, and their Triple-A team plays in Sacramento. Despite being drafted over a decade ago, Ross still hasn’t hit his 30th birthday. If he can get into healthy form by the end of the year, he can return to the open market and look to set himself up for a stronger deal in 2024.